Girl's path leads from
OxyContin to rehab
by Lenny Roberts
The assumption often expressed by both drug-using children
and their parents is that it's somebody else's problem, and life-altering
consequences or death happen only in other families.
When it does hit home, however, many parents still deny that
their children used drugs despite evidence or witnesses that
prove otherwise. Unfortunately, all too often, the abuser is
not around to confirm that he or she was dependent on either
street drugs or prescription medication.
OxyContin, a Schedule II controlled substance opiate derivative,
is a strong narcotic similar to morphine, produced as a time-released
medication. But authorities are finding that its misuse begins
when the user sucks off the coating before ingesting the tablet,
therefore getting all of the medication into the bloodstream
at once. Other means of transfer to the body are by crushing
the tablets and snorting the bitter powder or injecting it.
The Federal Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluations
and research has strengthened the warnings and precautions sections
in the labeling of the drug after receiving numerous reports
of OxyContin diversion and abuse in several states. Some of these
reported cases have been associated with serious consequences
including death. While the FDA recognizes the drug as a safe
and effective pain medication when properly prescribed and used
as directed, it cautions that, if taken daily and suddenly stopped,
it can result in physical dependence, a condition in which the
body shows signs of narcotic withdrawal.
This is not the same thing as addiction, which represents a situation
in which people obtain and take narcotics because of a psychological
need, and not just to treat a legitimate painful condition. The
agency further warns of dangerous interactions with other painkillers
Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, defends its product
by saying, "It is tragic that OxyContin, which provides
such tremendous relief to millions of patients in pain, is also
one of the many prescription medicines along with illegal drugs
that abusers and addicts choose to abuse." It further states,
"because of the presence of multiple drugs (in those who
overdose), it is often impossible in these cases to say with
confidence whether OxyContin or any specific drug caused or contributed
to death. However, according to CNN reports, Purdue is hoping
to reformulate the product to make it less susceptible to abuse
OxyContin is reportedly the best-selling narcotic pain medication
in the United States, with yearly sales in excess of $1 billion.
The street value, per pill, can reach $50.
A local financial journalist told the OVN that his 20-year-old
daughter's addiction has thus far cost him $50,000 to treat,
and nearly cost her her life.
He said "Kim" was like any other teen, but never caused
the family any real concerns until she began using OxyContin.
In reality, she was a casual user of marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy
before graduating to OxyContin, known by users as "hillbilly
heroin," "cottons," "O.C." or "killers."
"Three kids in this valley have died from it, and (Ojai
Police Chief) Gary Pentis told me that his office is overwhelmed
with drug arrests. This is not right for this valley," said
Kim's father. "This stuff hides in dark places, and you
just can't tell what our kids are doing."
Kim's problems began evident when she became lethargic, sleeping
for two or three days at a time. In March, she went on her own
to a local physician after recognizing, and more importantly
admitting, that she had a problem. Her father said that after
the local doctor prescribed morphine and other drugs to help
ease her out of her condition, she was referred to a methadone
clinic in Oxnard, where she was refused treatment and told that
it was a place for heroin addicts.
After contacting the Betty Ford Center, her father was given
the names of rehabilitation facilities in Southern California,
but she decided on Passages in Loa, Utah, because it was a far-removed
atmosphere away from influential friends.
"The forms were sent to her, and it was time to start telling
the truth," her father said. "What came out of this
was just amazing."
Kim admitted to smoking marijuana, and using cocaine and Ecstasy
in the past, but her everyday drug was OxyContin. It wasn't until
we moved here that she got into OxyContin. This is my beautiful
20-year-old daughter. I spent as much on getting her clean as
I would have on a college education," after digging into
his retirement funds.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley
to the news
Search for answers begins at home
It's called OC for out of control
Family deals with
Police chief questions
Local doctor sees surprising
increases in OxyContin overdoses